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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Richard Massey

Xi C. Taylor J. E. Massey R. J. , Rhodes J. Koekemoer A. & Salvato M. (2018). Quantifying the abundance of faint, low-redshift satellite galaxies in the COSMOS survey. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 478(4): 5336-5355.

Author(s) from Durham


Faint dwarf satellite galaxies are important as tracers of small-scale structure, but remain poorly characterized outside the Local Group, due to the difficulty of identifying them consistently at larger distances. We review a recently proposed method for estimating the average satellite population around a given sample of nearby bright galaxies, using a combination of size and magnitude cuts (to select low-redshift dwarf galaxies preferentially) and clustering measurements (to estimate the fraction of true satellites in the cut sample). We test this method using the high-precision photometric redshift catalogue of the COSMOS survey, exploring the effect of specific cuts on the clustering signal. The most effective of the size-magnitude cuts considered recover the clustering signal around low-redshift primaries (z < 0.15) with about two-thirds of the signal and 80 per cent of the signal-to-noise ratio obtainable using the full COSMOS photometric redshifts. These cuts are also fairly efficient, with more than one-third of the selected objects being clustered satellites. We conclude that structural selection represents a useful tool in characterizing dwarf populations to fainter magnitudes and/or over larger areas than are feasible with spectroscopic surveys. In reviewing the low-redshift content of the COSMOS field, we also note the existence of several dozen objects that appear resolved or partially resolved in the HST imaging, and are confirmed to be local (at distances of ∼250 Mpc or less) by their photometric or spectroscopic redshifts. This underlines the potential for future space-based surveys to reveal local populations of intrinsically faint galaxies through imaging alone.